Hillary Clinton was confronted by a Black Lives Matter demonstrator over comments she made in 1996
Clinton said in a statement Thursday that she should not have used those words
A pair of Black Lives Matter activists interrupted Hillary Clinton Wednesday night at a private fundraiser, confronting the Democratic presidential candidate with past statements she made about youth in gangs.
“We want you to apologize for mass incarceration,” Ashley Williams said at the Charleston, South Carolina, event. “I’m not a ‘super predator,’ Hillary Clinton.”
A video of the exchange was posted to YouTube.
Williams was referring to statements Clinton made in New Hampshire during her husband’s 1996 presidential re-election campaign, defending then-President Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill. The bill advocated for tougher policing of gang members.
Williams and a colleague paid the $500 ticket price to attend the Clinton event, according to the Huffington Post.
“We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators,’” then-first lady Hillary Clinton said, according to a C-SPAN video. “No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why then ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
Williams, holding a banner that said, “We have to bring them to heel. #WhichHillary?” asked Clinton, “Will you apologize to black people for mass incarceration?”
Members of the crowd then began to boo Williams, with some shouting, “You’re being rude,” “This is not appropriate” and “You’re trespassing.”
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Clinton told Williams, “Well, can I talk? And then maybe you can listen to what I say.”
Williams interjected, “You owe black people an apology – explain it to us.”
“Nobody’s ever asked me before. You’re the first person to ask me. And I’m happy to address it,” Clinton said.
After the exchange, the Secret Service escorted Williams out of the event.
Clinton released a statement Thursday saying, “I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.”
“My life’s work has been about lifting up children and young people who’ve been let down by the system or by society,” she continued. “Kids who never got the chance they deserved. And unfortunately today, there are way too many of those kids, especially in African-American communities. We haven’t done right by them. We need to. “
The Clintons have sought to mend fences with those upset by the 1994 criminal reform law, particularly as tensions between law enforcement and African-Americans have boiled over and as Hillary Clinton ramped up her presidential campaign.
The former President apologized last summer for the role his anti-crime measure played in disproportionately increasing incarceration rates among minorities.
Activists have protested Clinton events on multiple occasions over the past year, as they have with other presidential candidates, arguing that policies she supported have harmed African-Americans.
Clinton, campaigning in South Carolina ahead of Saturday’s primary, has sought to court African-American voters, a crucial voting bloc there. Polls show her leading her rival, Bernie Sanders, among those voters.